Books People Are Talking About by Lynette

Lynette facilitates the book discussion group at the Helmerich Library. At each meeting they read books on a particular topic or books by the same author and share their opinions. Below is her newsletter she shares with her group.

It’s time for our beautiful books recommendations. When it’s too hot to read, and more fun to look at pictures, these are some of my top favorites. But, please do NOT take these to the beach!

Contemporary Genius:

MAKING MISCHIEF : A Maurice Sendak Appreciation by Gregory Maguire (2009)

Those of you who remember that Maguire is the author of WICKED will realize what a brilliant pairing this is. Written when Sendak (author/artist of WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE) was turning 80, Maguire explores recurring motifs in Sendak’s work “from monsters to mayhem,” and his artistic inspirations (Blake, Lewis Carroll, and even Disney). The beautiful reproductions and details of his illustrations may surprise you with their breadth and range of styles. But his unique genius shines through.

Pop Culture:

BON JOVI: When We Were Beautiful -- Conversations with Phil Griffin (2009).

Great title matched by excellent photography. This iconic rock band of the ‘80’s is still touring. Griffin, a British photographer, captures the emotion, exhaustion and adrenaline of 25 years of making very large crowds happy. The book is a companion to Griffin’s documentary by the same name, and includes thoughtful reflections by the four band members.

THE ART OF IRON MAN: An Exclusive, Insider’s Look into the Blockbuster Iron Man Movie! By John Rhett Thomas (2010).

Well it was sort of a blockbuster this summer. The book reproduces a small bit of the 45-year evolution of the amazing art, graphics, and design of Iron Man (“He Lives! He Walks! He Conquers!”) from the comic book to your multiplex. An amazing number of all kinds of geniuses made this happen. The art and graphics will impress even those who are not superfans, and the detail will impress those who are. For example, there are 2 pages devoted to the color tests for Iron Man’s armor. Tulsa connection: Jeremy Latchem, the young Senior VP for Product and Development of Marvel Studios, grew up here.

Art and Art History:

RESCUING DA VINCI: Hitler and the Nazis Stole Europe''s Great Art; America and Her Allies Recovered It – by Robert M. Edsel (2006).

After the Nazi defeat, General Eisenhower tasked a group of civilian and military art experts with recovering missing art that had been looted from Europe’s museums and private homes. Known as the MONUMENT’S MEN, a separate book tells their story. This volume provides the photographic context to the story. Its black and white pictures are unsettling—Goering and Hitler casually choosing which art they would steal; masterpieces devoid of their frames, bundled up on boxcars; rows of valuable art stored in salt mines; precious family furniture rearranged in ghastly groupings as for an auction. Fascinating book.

THE ARTS & CRAFTS MOVEMENT – by Oscar Lovell Triggs (2009)

William Morris famously wrote "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." All I have to say is…..oops! However, we can look, admire, and wish. This is not an exhaustive overview, just a sampler, with stunning close ups of fabrics and tiles designed by Morris, and a selection of the furniture designs and art glass that makes this movement still wildly popular.

Our World:

IN SEARCH OF MYTHS & HEROES: Exploring Four Epic Legends of the World – by Michael Wood (author and documentary filmmaker) (2005). A National Geographic-type mixture of travel writing and photography, this is a companion book to the BBC series by the same name. If you’ve always wondered about the origins and contexts of Shangri-La, Jason and the Golden Fleece, the Queen of Sheba, or King Arthur, this is for you. Rather than exhaustive detail, the lovely and exotic photography and text provide an interesting overview. An excellent bibliography for each legend is included, as well as appropriate maps and quotes like this one:

“Here she lived for ninety years, subduing the lands/from distant Iraq to the edge of the great sand/a thousand thousands to obey her commands” (“Ode to the Queen of Sheba” by Abd-Karib As’ad, King of Sabac. 400 AD)

KAKAPO RESCUE: Saving the World’s Strangest Parrot – by Sy Montgomery. Photography by Nic Bishop. (2010)

I hate to tell you that this is in the children’s section, because I want everyone to see and love this book, as I do. It deserves every award it has won. These parrots are strange because they are large enough to be hugged (honest), and they live in burrows underground on a remote New Zealand island, and come out at night. The gorgeous photography is well-matched by the story of the team of scientists trying to save this species from extinction. And extinction may win.

Culinary Arts:

VEGETABLES BY 40 GREAT FRENCH CHEFS – by Lyndsay and Patrick Mikanowski, photography by Grant Symon. (2006) Large format, full page color photos. This is why I love my job. Coming across an unexpectedly beautiful, original book—one that I would never think to look up by subject, and could never afford to buy—is a delight. Vegetables have seldom looked so good. Many are exotic. There are explanations, and accessible recipes, and pictures of each French chef who created the signature dishes. If you are Julia-Child-inspired, (or maybe even Top Chef) this is for you.

WHAT’S NEW CUPCAKE? –byKaren Tack & Alan Richardson

Wildly inventive, cute, clever, and almost unbelievable, what you can put on, or turn a cupcake into—baby ducks; a moose’s head; several cupcakes together make a beehive with almond-winged bees; a golf hole complete with sand trap; whales floating in a sea of blue M & M’s. Amazing. AND step-by-step directions. No guarantee yours will look like theirs, but that’s part of the fun. And cupcakes are very trendy right now.

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